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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Police sniffer vultures plan a 'disaster'

Police chiefs are to scrap a plan to use vultures to replace sniffer dogs after it turned out to be a miserable failure.

Police in Germany imported the birds from Carinthia, Austria, in the hope their amazing eyesight, fantastic sense of smell and ability to find dead prey would help them to find missing bodies.

But the three birds - named Sherlock, Miss Marples and Columbo - have failed to find a single cadaver laid out in the wild for them - unless put in front of their beaks.

And one refuses to fly at all. Sherlock walks around at a speed similar to a waddling duck making him far less efficient than the average sniffer dog.

In addition the other two birds - Miss Marple and Columbo - spend most of their time fighting.

An insider working with the project at Walsrode in Lower Saxony, Germany, confirmed: "The project has been a disaster."

Early trials with the birds - which have a five foot wingspan - had already ruffled feathers with fans of more traditional methods.

"Everyone knows what vultures do when they find a body and they're not going to be as easy to call off as a Labrador. You could find half the evidence disappearing down their beaks," said one.

When contacted this week for a comment project creator Hermann Meyer said that the vultures were temporarily no longer available for journalistic access.

Trainer German Alonso admitted: "They don't seem to be able to do anything other than attack each other."

And he admitted they had done more research on the birds that indicated they might not have been the best choice.

He said: "It seems they are rather cowardly birds - they would rather hide in the woods than be out and about in the open."

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